J Stroke Cerebrovasc Dis. 2021 Apr 8;30(7):105802. doi: 10.1016/j.jstrokecerebrovasdis.2021.105802. Online ahead of print.
While use of telemedicine to guide emergent treatment of ischemic stroke is well established, the COVID-19 pandemic motivated the rapid expansion of care via telemedicine to provide consistent care while reducing patient and provider exposure and preserving personal protective equipment. Temporary changes in re-imbursement, inclusion of home office and patient home environments, and increased access to telehealth technologies by patients, health care staff and health care facilities were key to provide an environment for creative and consistent high-quality stroke care. The continuum of care via telestroke has broadened to include prehospital, inter-facility and intra-facility hospital-based services, stroke telerehabilitation, and ambulatory telestroke. However, disparities in technology access remain a challenge. Preservation of reimbursement and the reduction of regulatory burden that was initiated during the public health emergency will be necessary to maintain expanded patient access to the full complement of telestroke services. Here we outline many of these initiatives and discuss potential opportunities for optimal use of technology in stroke care through and beyond the pandemic.